SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Melina Rebimbas scored twice Friday to move the Americans into the final of the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship with a 3-0 win over Canada, which now faces a do-or-die third-place match with a berth in the FIFA U-17 World Cup on the line.
The defending champion Americans will meet Mexico in Sunday’s championship game with both finalists booking their ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India in October. The Mexicans blanked Puerto Rico 5-0 in the earlier semifinal at Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez.
Canada will have to get past Puerto Rico in the third-place match Sunday to get to the World Cup.
Onyeka Gamero also scored for the unbeaten Americans, who dominated the Canadians with a 20-2 advantage in shots (12-2 in shots on target).
Canada came out with an early aggressive press, but the Americans adjusted quickly and started mounting a relentless attack, smoothly moving the ball around the pitch and pinning the Canadians in their own end.
The pressure paid off in the 18th minute when Rebimbas lashed a shot past goalkeeper Coralie Lallier from just outside the six-yard box.
The Americans continued to probe the Canadian defence but were unable to add to their lead in the first half although midfielder Charlotte Kohler came close in the 42nd minute when her curling cross bounced off the Canadian crossbar.
The Canadians had so many players back in defence that there were few outlet options when they cleared the ball, which would allow the U.S. to launch another attack.
The Americans outshot Canada 10-2 (7-2 in shots on target) in the first 45 minutes with 80 per cent possession.
Lallier made a fine diving save in the 47th minute to deny Gamero’s hard shot as the Americans kept coming forward to open the second half.
Rebimbas made it 2-0 in the 58th minute with a virtual repeat of her first-half strike, upping her tournament goals total to seven. Gamero added to the lead in the 78th minute with a low shot that eluded Lallier and bounced in off the post for her fifth goal of the tournament.
Canada captain Zoe Markesini prevented another goal soon after with a last-ditch goal-line clearance. Markesini did it again in the 90th minute, preventing another goal.
The U.S. dominated en route to the final four, outscoring the opposition 53-0 in wins over Grenada (20-0), Puerto Rico (13-0), Costa Rica (5-0), Curacao (11-0) and Jamaica (4-0).
Fourteen different Americans had scored prior to Friday’s game, with 15 players registering assists.
Canada went 4-0-1 in reaching the semifinals with wins over the Dominican Republic (10-0) and Bermuda (5-0) before tying Jamaica 1-1 in the final group-stage match. The Canadian women then beat Honduras (4-1) and Costa Rica (3-0) in the knockout rounds.
Canada and the U.S. had met twice before in the tournament’s semifinal. Canada won on penalty kicks in 2010 after a 0-0 draw and lost 5-0 in 2016.
Their only meeting in the championship game was in 2012 when the Americans won 1-0.
The U.S. won 2014 and 2018 group-stage games with Canada by a score of 2-0 and 1-0, respectively.
The 2020 CONCACAF tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic. The U.S. dispatched Mexico 3-2 in the 2018 final.
Canada won the event in 2010, was runner-up in 2012 and 2013 and finished third in 2016 and 2018.
The Canadian women have qualified for the six previous editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in 2018 when they downed Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals before falling 1-0 to Mexico in the semifinal. Canada lost 2-1 to New Zealand in the third-place game.
Forward Jordyn Huitema, now with Paris Saint-Germain, captained that 2018 Canadian team with Rhian Wilkinson, now in charge of the NWSL Portland Thorns, as coach.
Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and host India have already qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Canada finished third at the recent CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic, qualifying for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica later this year in Costa Rica.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2022
The Canadian Press